I will freely admit my ignorance as to the comparative analysis of the appointment habits (attempted or otherwise) of the past few presidents. I’m only vaguely aware of successful appointees and their controversial decisions and/or personal scandals.
I do think that Bush is being greedy and unhealthfully partisan with his appointments. I do worry about the potential (life tenure) damage being done to the relationship of our branches of government because of those things. I do worry about Kerry’s, the Senate’s, or anyone else’s ability to try and balance for it.
No, no, honeydewgrrl, this is definitely GD material. We just need to clarify what we’re debating. I’ll suggest some issues:
What is the quality of the judges Bush has been nominating to the federal bench? Are they qualified? Are they too partisan and ideological? If so, is that something that should necessarily disqualify them?
Is it right for the Democratic minority in the Senate to use their filibuster power to block Bush’s judicial appointments? Even if that leaves some benches empty and the federal judiciary understaffed?
(What Woolner was mainly concerned with) Should the Kerry campaign be making this a campaign issue? If so, what should be their take on it? What kind of judges should Kerry promise to appoint? If not, why not? Is this an issue where the Democrats can’t gain any traction no matter what they say?
Bear in mind, in the next four years, federal judges will continue to die or resign, and more slots will come open, just like always. If Kerry has a Democratic, or at any rate non-obstructive, Senate to deal with, he can appoint liberal judges to balance Bush’s conservative appointments; and Kerry’s judges, like Bush’s, will have life tenure. If Kerry wins.
If Kerry wins there will be plenty of obstruction of his judicial nominees. If the Republicans retain control of the Senate then they will bury any liberal Kerry names to the bench. If they don’t win then despite their cries against the use of the filibuster to block ultraconservative Bush nominees they will use the tactic themselves and probably with more abandon. The Dems have filibustered, what? Eight nominees total? The number is quite small for all the bitching it has caused.
Sorry to be such a downer. I should also note that the drive to turn the federal judiciary to the right began at least with Nixon who listed his candidates by age. Bush Jr. is following his lead. He names not just conservatives but young conservatives. Some of these will continue to hear cases for decades after Bush is out of office.
Could you be more specific? What would you change about it? And are you talking about the courts generally, or only the federal courts (which are the topic of this thread)? And . . . what exactly do you mean by “dichotomies set for abuse”?
Indeed…The Republicans blocked many, many more nominees (more than 60) from being voted on in the Clinton era. I forget what the exact number was. Not only that, but most of those were blocked by not even bringing them up for a vote…which in many cases occurred because just one or a few of the most right-wing Senators (like Jesse Helms) objected to them. At least when you block a nomination with a filibuster, 40 Senators have to go on record as being opposed to the nominee.
Here is the Senate Democratic Policy Committee webpage on the confirmation of Bush judicial nominees.